Eating Disorders in Children: Types, Causes, Treatment, Preventive Tips | Health

Eating disorders mean problems with the way a child eats and, according to health experts, are more common in young children and can be seen in any age group. It can be stressful for parents to deal with the child who has an eating disorder as it can affect them mentally and physically as children with eating disorders tend to experience negative effects on almost every organ in the body so timely treatment is key to helping children. with eating disorders.

Types of eating disorders in children.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Vrushali Bichkar, Consultant Pediatrician and Neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital in Lullanagar, Pune, listed the various types of eating disorders that children can face:

1. Anorexia Nervosa – This is an eating disorder in which the child’s weight is below average for their age and height. Children with anorexia are afraid of getting fat or gaining weight. They tend to have a distorted body image, calling themselves “fat” even when they are very thin. People with this problem tend to have mental health problems, such as mood disorders, depression, or anxiety disorders. Its symptoms are bluish discoloration of the fingers due to lack of oxygen, hair loss, tiredness, insomnia, fainting and absence of menstruation in adolescents.

2. Bulimia Nervosa – Here, a child engages in binge eating episodes during which he eats too much and then purges or tries to get rid of the extra calories. This means self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise, such as running on a treadmill for hours. Those who suffer from it present anxiety and self-injurious behaviors. Signs of this are stained teeth, calluses on the back of the hands or knuckles from self-induced vomiting, frequent fluctuations in weight, and an irregular menstrual cycle.

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3. Restrictive food intake disorder – If a child has this disorder, then they are unable or refuse to eat certain foods based on texture, color, taste, temperature, or even aroma. The child may have problems with weight loss, poor growth, and nutritional deficiencies. Here, a child may consume only a very limited range of foods and even reject those foods if they seem new or different.

4. Binge eating disorder – Having binge eating disorder means that children will eat large amounts of food, but will not try to get rid of the calories once they have eaten. Such children may be obese or overweight. They tend to have trouble coping with anger, sadness, worry, and stress. They will always feel guilty about eating too much and not exercising.

Causes:

According to Dr. Vrushali Bichkar, genetics, stress, and preexisting psychiatric disorders can make a child prone to having an eating disorder.

Treatment:

“Psychotherapy, nutritional education, medical management, and medication in some cases can help children with eating disorders,” Dr. Vrushali Bichkar suggested.

Preventive tips:

Dr. Vrushali Bichkar advised: “As parents, you should talk to your children about unhealthy eating habits, encourage them to eat healthy foods, maintain optimal weight, exercise every day, sleep well, and stay stress-free. Try to help your child build a healthy body image, don’t shame the child. Do not go on a diet while you are around the child, as he/she will feel that it is OK to skip healthy foods or even starve. So make sure your child gets all the essential nutrients from the diet.”

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